Tag Archives | NYC history

The First Matzoh

Caleb’s first-grade class went to the Museum at Eldridge Street last week and Caleb had a great time.  I asked him what kind of museum it was because–embarrassingly–I hadn’t known that there even was a museum on Eldridge Street.

“It’s a matzoh museum, mommy,” he said, in a tone that dripped condescension.

“A whole museum about matzoh?”

“Of course. We even learned a story about the First Matzoh.”

Never occurred to me that there might be a First Matzoh, either.  I was raised vaguely Protestant; I suppose somewhere in our culture there’s a story about the First Martini, but no one I know can remember it.

“What’s the story?”

Well.” Deep breath. Apparently I’m in for a saga. “So. There was this guy, right? Moses. He was the good guy.” Looks at me expectantly. I nod.

Satisfied, the Bard of the First Matzoh continues. “In the time of the pharaohs, you know, Egypt. The Pharaoh is totally the bad guy. And he keeps these people as his slaves.”

“Jewish people?”

Shrugs. “I think so. Maybe. Yeah, Jews. Anyway. Moses asks the Pharaoh over and over if he will let the people go and be free. But the Pharaoh likes to have all the slaves to do his work so he says no all the time. Moses gets mad but then Pharoah gets even angrier and so he’s the oldest, right?”

“Moses? Or Pharoah?”

Puzzled. Thinks a minute. “No. Wait. Pharoah says he’s going to kill the oldest ones in every family because I think the new ruler who was going to take over from him was going to be the oldest. So Moses gets all the people and they escape!”

The Bard begins to play with his Lego figures. I wait for the denouement of the story or at very least the mention of matzoh but none is forthcoming.

“What about the matzoh? Did the people get away?’

The Lego figures get arranged in a complex battle formation across the rug.  The Bard looks up. “The people are running and the army is chasing them and they get to the sea, and it looks like they’re going to be captured but then someone goes into the sea and makes a command or magic and the sea opens up, like with the bad guys chasing Frodo in “Lord of the Rings,” you know? And so they go through this like hallway of water but then the army comes and WHOOSH!” The Legos get knocked down. “The water washes them away!”

“What about the matzoh?”

“They get out of the ocean and they’re lost in the desert and all they have is flour stuff and some water so they mix that together and that was matzoh.”

The Legos get set up across the rug again, apparently ready to march across the desert with Moses.

“And that’s it?”

“Yup. That’s matzoh.”

Thus endeth the lesson.

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Continue Reading · on April 9, 2011 in Children, Education, NYC

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